Hundley learns from Bard, Barrett

You are a young prospect with talent at big league camp. Your goal is to get a job in the majors, often supplanting a veteran. Are they helpful? Catcher Nick Hundley says Josh Bard and Michael Barrett were extremely helpful to him, welcoming him into the fraternity.

Big league camp – what was the experience like, what did you learn and what did you take away from it?

Nick Hundley: I learned a bunch just being around those guys. They have such talent that if you don't step your game up it is going to show.

That is the biggest thing – trying to get on their level of ability, of preparation, of focus. They are out there competing. It was a great experience and I got to try and stick around.

What can you learn from catching a guy like Greg Maddux that you can bring down to some of the guys down here?

Nick Hundley: In terms of controlling their fastball and moving their fastball around and really working the strikes down and away. Those guys can command whatever they want and are so skilled with their craft and are so under control. It is kind of like their bodies are slaves to them.

The younger guys, myself included, get out of control and try and do too much. That is what I try and do – control my body and make it do what I want to do every time.

You got a chance to go to China. What was that experience like for you?

Nick Hundley: It was incredible. Seeing how many people there were – and the buildings impressed me the most.

They don't mind bumping into you. It was amazing. We came back to the airport and a lady bumped into Blanks and turned around and said, ‘Excuse me.' It was great. It was like Christmas. They just go – it is amazing. So we were like ‘thank you.'

It was good to be over there. It was a long trip.

You come back to Arizona after the trip and really miss two days on both sides of the trip. You are trying to get your work in. Did it make it more difficult to get ready for the season?

Nick Hundley: It was definitely a wrench in our progress. I thought I was close to being ready to roll before we went in there and then I had to jump back in and get it rolling again.

It was great to be over there and I wouldn't trade that for anything but then it became about the season. Really focusing and getting ready to go.

Last year, you really focused on your defense during the offseason and it paid off for you with a solid year behind the plate. The offense suffered a little bit, however. Did you take a different approach this offseason?

Nick Hundley: My approach was to get in the best shape I could and be ready for the first pitch. I started off so slow last year, I wanted to get in and from the first day we swung live and the first game we played, I wanted to treat that as the beginning of the season to get that out of the way and get it going sooner. That was probably the biggest thing I did – really focus on being ready to go on that first day.

Did you feel you let your hitting go a little last year?

Nick Hundley: I don't think I let it go, but I definitely put more emphasis on the defensive side of it. I know I can hit. I know that is going to come.

I think if I can control the game defensively, and then bring the power and offense I have, it is going to be a good year for me.

What will make a successful 2008 season for Nick Hundley?

Nick Hundley: Staying healthy, going out and playing hard everyday and trying to get little victories everyday. We have great catching in the big leagues so there is no need to put timetables on myself. Just go out and play everyday.

You see guys like Josh Bard and Michael Barrett and get to play with them in big league camp. Do you also see how close you are in comparison?

Nick Hundley: Yea, you get a gauge on how they work and what their strengths are. Everyone is going to be different. Bard and Barrett were huge in taking me under their wings. They taught me a bunch this camp.

Everyone is going to have their strengths and everyone will have their weaknesses. You have to go out and get it done. I don't gauge myself against them as much as gauge myself against me.

Did it surprise you how unselfish these guys are? You are a young guy coming up working towards taking their job, essentially.

Nick Hundley: Exactly. Everyone wants that job and they have it. It was amazing how well they treated me and the guys around me. They were professionals and ready to go every single day.

Whenever they had a free moment, if I had a question, they would talk to me. If they had something they saw, they would come up to talk to me too. I wasn't surprised but it was really comforting to know they were there and working together. It was kind of like a little fraternity for the catchers.

Talk about this story on our subscriber-only message boards

MadFriars Top Stories